On Killing Book Review

On Killing

I finished Lt. Col Dave Grossman’s book On Killing recently. It’s about soldiers’ resistance to kill, how the military overcomes that instinct, and the larger reprecussions of that type of training on society. It is not a “how-to” book as I feared many people might’ve thought whenever I read it in public.

At the start I should say that Grossman presents a good case. He backs it up with hundreds of interviews with soldiers and his personal impressions from being in the service. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a lot of hard data to support his point. Why? Because for the most part there just haven’t been a lot of studies on how to get someone to kill another person. It ranges into the unethical territory of psychological studies. The data he does have is convincing. Continue reading

Mars One

I read about this project the other day called Mars One.

The project involves setting up a colony on Mars for four people to live on by 2025.

Getting to the moon is hard enough. It takes like a day and a half of travel, landing is hard, getting off again is hard, and landing safely on Earth is even harder.

NASA and other government space programs have always avoided going to Mars for two reasons.

#1 With our current rockets it would take about two months to get there. Spend a week there and two months back, you need four months of oxygen. It’s not possible to transport that much so you need to recycle your air and that gets complicated. Plus there’s all the extra food, water, and fuel you’d have to bring.

#2 With that two month journey its even harder to get back. We can land drones on Mars, but we can’t bring them back.

Mars One plans to get around the first problem by establishing a minor space colony first, while also working with robots to establish a little base camp on Mars.

The second problem is tackled by… not bringing the humans that are sent there back to Earth.

That’s right, Mars One is a one way trip. That’s where the name came from (I think).

There’s a lot of logistical problems with that. I’ve casually mentioned a few (sustainable food, water, air, fuel). I’m sure there are more.

Another problem is who would want to go on a mission like this? It’s almost certainly going to have problems that could kill you. Even if it doesn’t kill you, you’re stuck on Mars for the rest of your life. Maybe more people will come later, but that’s doubtful.

Well, Mars One asked people to apply for their one way trip to Mars and got thousands of responses. Those responses have been whittled down to one hundred people.

The next step is to whittle that one hundred down to four via, get this, a reality TV show.

This was the point where I stopped taking Mars One seriously.

I looked into it a little more. Mars One is a non-profit. The project is supposedly only for the advancement of space travel. And it will help with that at least through gaining public attention if not by developing equipment for Mars colonies.

There’s also a for-profit company attached to Mars One called the Interplanetary Media Group. That company is the one releasing a bunch of press and making the reality TV show. They’ll probably make a ton of money off of that.

Is that money going to go towards funding the Mars trip? Maybe. Is it going to fund the construction of beach house real estate for the owners of these two companies? Maybe.

And the weirdest thing about all of this? Even though the reality TV show seems like an awful interview process, I’m still interested in watching it.

A previous experiment for this, Mars-500, simulated people going into a spacecraft to Mars for 500 days. Cut off from the outside world the people in the mission pretended to do all of the things necessary for going to Mars to see how they held up mentally when they were forced to be in the same “spacecraft” for a year and a half.

Mars-500 was a success, but possibly only because it was fake. As a psychological study you have to give people the option to opt out at any time. That wouldn’t be the case in a real space flight.

My point is that the training process for Mars One has to be similar to Mars-500 and I’m excited to watch that. Plus I might get to vote people out the airlock or something!

-GoCorral

PS. And here’s what Neil deGrasse Tyson has to say about it.

Seth Rogen’s Film and North Korea

There’s a new movie coming out in the USA on October 10th 2014 called The Interview.

The movie is getting a lot of press because of the unusual plot. In The Interview two journalists travel to North Korea and attempt to assassinate Kim Jong-Un.

This has obviously upset Kim Jong-Un and some North Koreans. Every major news company has released something covering the North Korean response.

Here’s one of the articles I read put out by CBC.

The North Korean statement went something like this, “If the U.S. government doesn’t block the movie’s release, it will face stern and merciless retaliation. The reckless U.S. provocative insanity of mobilizing a gangster filmmaker to challenge the North’s leadership is triggering a gust of hatred and rage among North Korean people and soldiers. The film’s release would be considered an act of war that we will never tolerate.”

So if the statement is to be interpreted accurately, the North Korean people are upset over the upcoming film’s release (I doubt many of them even know about it. I certainly didn’t until this news article popped up on Facebook as “trending.”)

Seth Rogen is apparently a provocative, insane, gangster filmmaker (Provocative for sure, but the other statements are just insults).

And the final point, North Korea will view the release of the film as an act of war.

If that’s taken seriously, then North Korea intends to declare war on the USA because we didn’t censor a film.

Granted the film is highly offensive to North Korea, but that’s only because the North Korean administration doesn’t understand how free speech works.

If we censor the film then what other films should we censor? Should Olympus Has Fallen have been censored because it portrayed the North Koreans attacking a fictional US President? No.

And perhaps that’s the point of it. Past movies of this kind have always dealt with fictional leaders of countries. The person at risk is never the real President or the Supreme Leader of North Korea. It’s always some random person in an alternate past or unknown future.

And I think Seth Rogen wrote his script with the actual leader because he knew this type of response was coming.

He knew the North Koreans would flip out and make a statement of some kind.

And he knew that other news networks would pick up the story.

And now his film gets free international publicity.

It may be provocative and insulting, but it was also a smart business decision.

Anyways, I doubt North Korea will attack the USA once the film is released.

More likely they will use this as their excuse to launch missiles at South Korea this year. There will be a tense standoff and then once again nothing will be resolved in the eternal Korean War.

That’s all for today!

-Mister Ed